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Comment Re:Amazing (Score 1) 44

We have not tried crisis yet but it does have a "flying" capability where we can load up a model of the space shuttle and fly over planetary surfaces in real time. The surfaces that have GIS (elevation and color data) allow us to have a real view of the planet and fly anywhere we want to go. Mars, the Moon, and the Earth, are all incredible objects to explore from both space and flying.

Comment Re:This makes me sad. (Score 1) 44

20 million stars to be specific. It was time to retire old Fritz who is currently standing guard in the lobby of Fiske. The technology was from 1965 which while still impressive engineering is markedly old by today's standards. The new star projector still lives on the same elevator that comes out of the floor in the middle of the room. Its amazing to see how dark and detailed a perfect sky can be with the new megastar.

Comment Re:Movies on domes suck (Score 1) 44

This is actually incorrect. The way the shows we have are designed you can sit anywhere in the room and get a great experience. The sweetspot for focus is infront of the audience so you do not have to be in the center to enjoy it. You should come check it out and tell us what you think!

Comment Re:This makes me sad. (Score 1) 44

Hello, I work at the CU campus and help out at Fiske and you are 100% correct that many planetariums are becoming passive and prerecorded. This is NOT the case at Fiske. We always have at least 30 minutes of live talking and exploring with every show we put on. We may watch an IMAX movie but you have an astronomer leading you through the solar system or on a star talk before hand. We always have an expert on hand and in the auditorium to answer questions and interact with the members of the audience. We firmly believe that you should have a live show even if the screen is becoming more digital. As for our new star-ball we do understand that digital is not everything. We went with the megastar system because it projects, in an analog pinhole format, 22 million stars onto the dome. This means we can give star talks with stars below the human eye's response so we need to use binoculars INSIDE! We have the opportunity now to be more than just the place you learn about the stars but also about the inside of the human body, chemistry, earth processes, and much more. This theater also provides the best environment in the state for film students to learn about large format production and actually produce content that is shown at Fiske. You should check it out and give us feedback on how we can serve people better but we will not go to the fully preprogrammed format where the audience comes in, sits down, gets filled up with a video, and leaves. We strive for interactive shows where the audience not only participates but helps determine the part of the universe we explore.

Comment Incredible Theater (Score 1) 1

I work on the CU Campus and have had the opportunity to teach in the new Fiske Planetarium theater. Epic is the only word that comes to mind. Watching video at 8K x 8K resolution at 60 frames per second makes you question if things are real or animated. The new star projector shows 20 million stars and I have used binoculars INSIDE the planetarium theater. If you are in Colorado you should check it out. The technical specs are amazing too the 25 computers that run the live digital system are pretty impressive.

Submission + - A look inside the 8K theater technology at the newly renovated Fiske Planetarium 1

An anonymous reader writes: Sky gazers at CU-Boulder’s Fiske Planetarium ( ) are getting better, clearer and deeper views. And not just of astronomy anymore.

The planetarium has been upgraded, transforming it into a digital IMAX-like theater (thread: images: ) that’s open to the public every Saturday and Sunday with a variety of programs including shows for children. In addition to space odysseys and laser shows — longtime favorites of audiences — movies are now part of the Fiske lineup( ).

“Just like at an IMAX theater, we can take you near a black hole, through the Grand Canyon, under the ocean, or up to a super volcano,” said Doug Duncan, director of Fiske. “The sky is no longer the limit.” (

Submission + - New 'Virtual Windshield' Gives Drivers X-Ray Vision (

cartechboy writes: And you thought it was a power only Superman had. A new safety system from a research team at the University of Porto in Portugal equips cars with a 'virtual windshield' that allows drivers to see *through* other cars to eliminate blind spots while passing. The system, called, yes 'See Through System'(or STS) uses low-latency video streaming and dedicated short-range communication to project images of the road ahead, even when a driver's view is blocked. A transparent screen is mounted in front of the driver of the following car, allowing the driver to "see" through the vehicle in front. Down the road, the developers say the whole thing could be integrated with a car's windshield, creating an augmented reality view.

Comment This story is about Learner Centered Environments (Score 1) 212

I am a graduate student in Astronomy and part of my dissertation is studying these active engagement techniques. It seems that many people on here are quick to jump the gun and give an opinion before understanding why we say the lecture doesn't matter anymore. Teachers in the workshops I help with also get confused as to what these words mean.

People learn in a variety of different ways yet lecture is the most common form of material dissemination. This is wonderful for the people who can soak in all of the information and draw conclusions themselves. This leaves many people behind if all they have time for is writing down facts and attempting to keep up with the basic material. Since most courses in high school and college no longer require intense critical thinking, a quick memorization of facts will allow most students to succeed and think they "KNOW" material. When asked to apply it many are unable to. Interactive engagement techniques do not require the removal of lecture from the learning process they just put less emphasis on it. Lecture is the ONLY way to present enough material in a college course and is critical to the active engagement techniques. Students must be given the basic knowledge before they can be left to begin their own critical thinking process.

We know from research that people learn by linking new concepts to concepts they already have a model for. Most of these models are incorrect when it comes to astronomical and physical phenomena. A student who has misconceptions may still think they understand the material and be able to respond correctly to some questions. However, when a question specifically calls out a known misconception, the model the student is using to reason through the question will lead them to the incorrect answer every time. What active engagement techniques employ is social conversation. Lecture tutorials are one form of this learner centered engagement. Students are given a 20 minute lecture on a topic such as the seasons. Then they spend 20 minutes with a partner working through a socratic dialog (in their lecture tutorial workbook made up of research validated questions and "fake" student responses). The pair works on coming to consensus and discussing the reasons for their answers on each question. As the students work through the dialog the concepts become more challenging and the misconceptions are challenged. Often students are required to look back at previous answers (known to be commonly incorrect) after some misconceptions have been challenged. Students are engaged in their own meta-cognition and are forced to confront their own and others ideas. This active form of discussing and defending your ideas allows for misconceptions to be overcome and new concepts to be better rooted in the brain.

For those of you who think this is useless. We performed a study of lecture tutorials in our classes. We split the classes into the top 50% of students and the bottom 50% of students. Before lecture the top students are scoring 50% on concepts not yet covered, those at the bottom are near 10%. After lecture BOTH groups are around 50-55%. This means lecture is helping students catch up with the basic information they may not have had. However lecture only got the class to FAILING! After a lecture tutorial in class, both groups are now performing at the 70% level. TWO WHOLE LETTER GRADES BETTER!!! This is why we say lecture is not the important part of the course because the student engagement is helping everyone.

So if lecture is only a means of giving out the information then there is not a critical need for professors to stand in front of the classroom at this time. We can hire actors which are far better at the job of dictating and making material exciting and record it. The professors job becomes important later when students have questions not for being the talking head.

Comment Re:You think that's big!?!?!? (Score 1) 202

While you are completely correct, it is harder and harder to see individual stars as you observe galaxies farther away. The farthest we can clearly observe bright, single stars is the Virgo Cluster which is only 50 million light years away. So until we get much larger telescopes we have to rely on the local universe to provide us with record breakers or we are sunk for the time being.

Comment Re:Ten million times brighter than the Sun? (Score 1) 202

If I have 1 100W bulb and compare it to 2 100W bulbs, a single patch of surface area will not be intrinsically brighter but the object with two bulbs is twice as bright. I posted about this elsewhere on this page already, but luminosity is equal to the surface area (A) times the Temperature(T) to the 4th power. L=A*T^4. Every lightbulb has the same temperature but as you add lightbulbs together the emitting area goes up. If you took a star like our sun, kept the surface temperature the same but made it a million times bigger in size, the luminosity would go up 1 million times.

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